A Week 2 upset of Long Beach Poly High, ranked No. 7 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll at the time, made others take notice of the Los Alamitos football team.
The following week, the Los Angeles Chargers showed up to honor Griffins coach Ray Fenton as their high school football coach of the week. A ceremony was carried out prior to Los Alamitos’ nonleague home game against Wilmington Banning on Thursday night.
Los Alamitos came out firing on all cylinders and rolled to a 49-13 win over the Pilots at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach.
As a whole, the Griffins (2-1) seemed determined to prove that their convincing 20-6 victory over Poly had not been a fluke. In that game, the Jackrabbits were unable to get on the scoreboard until midway in the fourth quarter.
Los Alamitos, No. 10 in Division 2, again shut down the opposing offense. The Griffins received the opening kickoff and ran seven plays, all runs, to go 65 yards for a touchdown. An 11-yard run by Jaiden Mitchell capped it off.
From there, the Griffins’ defense made sure that their offense would have plenty of opportunities. Los Alamitos started its remaining six drives of the first half in Banning territory.
“It felt like everything that we did was on their side of the field,” Fenton said. “We could have played on a 50-yard field tonight.”
In addition to his defense, Fenton also credited his special teams units for the short fields.
“Even our punt return team put pressure on that punter to where he couldn’t get a hold of them, and that gives you an advantage,” Fenton added. “When you have a 45-yard drive, that’s pretty attainable in high school football.”
Banning (1-3) recorded its only first down of the first half with 5:03 remaining in the second quarter. It came on a two-yard run by Anthony Martinez after an offsides penalty made it fourth-and-one in Banning territory.
Los Alamitos scored on its first six drives in the first half. The first two drives saw a lot of Zack Wagoner under center, as the Griffins looked to set the tone with their running game.
Wagoner scored the Griffins’ second and third touchdowns on short-yardage keepers.
“We really pride ourselves on being more physical than the other teams,” Wagoner said. “The whole game plan this week was to shove it down their throats, and I think we successfully executed that.”
Wagoner finished with nine carries for 79 yards. He was also on the receiving end of one of Cade McConnell’s two touchdown passes, a 53-yard catch and run in which Wagoner’s foot speed was enough to split the safeties.
McConnell took a hit on his other passing touchdown, but he fired deep to the left sideline for Kenui Huey, who made one man miss before taking it the rest of the way for a 50-yard score.
Banning scored twice in the fourth quarter, which was played with a running clock. Pilots backup quarterback Jakob Garcia ended the shutout with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Gonzalez. He added a 43-yard touchdown to Diego Corona on the final play of the game.
Keanu Norman had just four carries for 28 yards, but his longest, a 15-yard scamper down the right sideline, gave the Griffins a 42-0 lead with 8:16 left in the second quarter.
The final Los Alamitos scoring play came on a great individual effort. Michael-Allen Reddy blocked Hegel Quiroz’s punt, picked the ball up near the goal line and carried it into the end zone.
“Me and Nicky [Valenzuela], we talked to each other and switched roles,” Reddy said. “I was supposed to blow up the gate, but it just so happened that he missed me. I just tried to make my best play on the ball. I made the play, I saw the ball, scooped it and scored it.”
Los Alamitos 49, Wilmington Banning 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Banning 0 – 0 – 0 – 13 — 13
Los Alamitos 28 – 21 – 0 – 0 — 49
LA – Mitchell 11 run (Valenzuela kick), 9:44.
LA – Wagoner 2 run (Valenzuela kick), 6:20.
LA – Wagoner 4 run (Valenzuela kick), 2:28.
LA – Huey 50 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 1:08.
LA – Wagoner 53 pass from McConnell (Valenzuela kick), 11:44.
LA – Norman 15 run (Valenzuela kick), 8:16.
LA – Reddy 2 punt block return (Valenzuela kick), 6:52.
B – Gonzalez 50 pass from Garcia (Quiroz kick), 10:28.
B – Corona 43 pass from Garcia (no kick because clock ran out), :00.
B – Garcia, 2-30.
LA – Wagoner, 9-79, 2 TDs.
B – Garcia, 2-2-0, 93, 2 TDs
LA – McConnell, 6-7-0, 149, 2 TDs.
B – Corona, 4-51, 1 TD.